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Summary:

Apple recently re-branded its iPhone OS to the less device-specific iOS, and not only because it seemed ridiculous to have the iPhone operating system powering the iPad. No, as rumors surrounding the upcoming iTV suggest, Apple wants to bring iOS to more hardware platforms.

iphone_apps

Apple recently re-branded its iPhone OS to the less device-specific iOS, and not only because it seemed ridiculous to have the iPhone operating system powering the iPad, which is a decidedly different gadget. No, as rumors surrounding the upcoming iTV suggest, Apple wants to bring the touch-enabled, app-powered operating system to still more hardware platforms.

A new patent application making the rounds suggests that Apple’s plans for iOS go beyond its Apple TV revamp, too, and extend to the desktop. The patent in question describes a modular iMac, with the ability to pivot down to a more touch-friendly angle and the power to switch between OS X and iOS, depending on your needs at any given computing session.

Obviously, Apple considers its forays into touch-enabled mobile computing a success and wants to translate that success to its traditional desk and laptop computing divisions. Anyone who’s used an iDevice and/or gotten used to multi-touch gestures using either a Mac notebook trackpad or the recently released Magic Trackpad peripheral will likely attest to the convenience and ease of use of Apple’s take on touch computing. But can the iOS model be successful on more traditional computers, and who will reap the benefits of such a change?

In some ways, of course, a unified iOS platform across all devices will be a boon to consumers. Presumably, apps purchased for one platform will be installable and usable on each of the others (with limitations and exceptions, as evidenced by the iPad and iPhone differences). So your money will go farther, and a more uniform experience means that even the most casual computer users will get the most out of their devices.

But the consumer isn’t the party that stands to gain the most from a move towards iOS. Apps are the key to Apple’s mobile operating system, and apps, as we’ve seen, present a sort of “walled garden” version of the Internet for safer, more controlled consumption of content. Apple’s policies regarding the policing of that walled garden are of debatable merit, but what isn’t in question is the advantage to content producers.

By segmenting, repackaging and reselling focused content bundles in the form of apps, Apple is making it possible for web content creators to charge users directly for their wares, instead of having to rely on the unpredictable revenue stream provided by advertising, which has by far been the dominant model to date. The widespread availability of free information on the web has been cited as responsible for the gradual decline of traditional media outlets, like print news.

iOS on more devices means more potential revenue sources for media providers and content creators, and could provide the boost that journalism is looking for. Ironically, it should help Google, too, since the relevance of its search capabilities depends upon the continued production of good and useful information sources, which apps could help fund in a big way going forward.

Of course, the upshot is that Apple gets to operate as the arbiter of taste and morality for all of the content that passes through its gates. Is it a small price to pay for the continued sustainability of media production, or a pill you’re ultimately unwilling to swallow?

Related GigaOM Pro Research: Rogue Devices: The Consumer Influence On Enterprise Mobility, Part 1

  1. One of my favorite things about some iOS apps is how they give you desktop app experiences with online content. Take the Amazon and eBay apps on the iPad. These apps are probably the best way to interact with these sites.

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  2. Well I suppose for the 5-10% of computer users that use iOS it might. No-one else will care.

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  3. The key is no longer computer users, it’s iPhone users. Apple is de emphasising the Mac from future development. Mac apps are ineligible for WWDC Apple Design awards now, for example. Apple’s future is clearly iOS, not MacOS.

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    1. I know. That’s why I gave them up to 10% – whch is still generous.

      iOS is dominated by Symbian. OS X is dominated by Windows. Either way the majority don’t care about Apple.

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      1. However, Symbian and Windows are horrible abominations and are likely to vanish in a few years.

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  4. This is a pill I will not swallow. The day Apple tries to ram there censorship down my throat is the day I return to windows

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    1. Your post tells me you have never used a Mac
      Post another lie chump

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  5. I have said it before, and I will say it again: iOS would be horrible on desktop computers! If you don’t believe me, try using your MacBook’s or iMac’s display imagining it’s a touchscreen; how long until your arm hurts? On Apple TV, unless they make some kind of remote with a touchscreen, it’d be equally bad. And even a remote doesn’t really seem to solve all the problems. These rumors about an iOS Apple TV don’t make any sense to me at all.

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    1. Listen to me now and believe me later…
      iTV will change the Television industry forever! Much the same way that the original Mac changed the publishing industry forever, the iPod changed the music industry forever, the iPhone changed the telecommunication industry forever, the iPad changed the tablet computing industry forever.

      TV: your next on Steve’s radar and there is no place you can hide. Resistance is Futile!

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      1. I don’t have any problem believing that Apple is going to change the TV industry. I just think the idea of iOS on non-touchscreens is ridiculous at best. It’s just so un-Apple. They didn’t put Mac OS on iPad, and they ain’t gonna put iOS on Mac or Apple TV. Porting hardware-bound software to completely different hardware isn’t really Apple’s style.

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    2. Have you been hiding under a rock and not seen the patent for a touch enabled iMac? You wouldn’t be reaching up to touch the screen. On the “new” iMac at least, it’d fold down to a more comfortable touch position. I’d guess it would pivot like the old G4 iMac screen did. I’m sure the engineers can come up with something similar for a laptop.

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  6. Zack Lee Wright Wednesday, August 25, 2010

    Yes, not only WILL it change the internet iOS ALREADY HAS change the internet forever. Before June 2007 very few if anybody used their fingers to explore the internet and now tens of millions due this DAILY !!

    Internet content changed on June 29, 2007. Thank you Steve.

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  7. Remember the development of the Internet, moving as it has from displaying text only (Mosaic and Gopher) to images (graphical browsers) and finally to multimedia? This was the revolution… Analog to Digital. Whether we get sanitised content (when we insist on consuming it on a 3″ wearable screen) or Just dumbed down information (because we have lost the ability to concentrate amid the noise) is a subtext. It is merely a detail. I have seen this dumbing down process happening throughout the history of Television (originally hoped to revolutionize education) then later to computing and communication. This is intentional, they (Apple included unfortunately) want to sell you the same “improved” products in new packaging over and over again (With ^&#$@!*! Adverts for good measure). rant over…

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  8. Hamranhansenhansen Saturday, August 28, 2010

    The touch iMac is not about iOS, it’s about Mac OS. In the patent you can see menus “File Edit View” that is a Mac. “OS X” runs on both Mac OS and iOS devices, it is the core operating system of both. All of the touch features of iOS are also in the Mac, same as the Exchange features of iOS are also in the Mac, and the audio video and typography features of the Mac are also in iOS. They’re already the same operating system with 2 interfaces, one for consumers and one for pros. The Mac app platform is being updated right now to Cocoa interfaces so that future Macs can drop the mouse.

    iOS already changed the Internet by putting a desktop class HTML5 browser on a mobile device, and open sourcing that for all other mobile makers. WAP/WML “mobile websites” are gone and HTML5 websites are here. That is the biggest change.

    Native iOS apps don’t do anything that native Mac OS apps and native apps on other platforms haven’t already done on the Internet. Before the Web was even created in 1990, you used the Internet entirely with native apps. Every platform has a native mail app and typically an FTP app, those predate the Web. iTunes is a native Mac and Windows app that sells content over the Internet. Nothing has changed. The Web is just the one common app that everybody on the Internet has, that runs on every platform, it is not the Internet itself. Skype runs on the Internet, not the Web, and it predates iOS.

    The difference between iOS and other mobiles is iOS has desktop class native C apps. Other platforms have baby Java apps, they have no real advantage over the Web. So I have a multitrack recorder on iPhone that can’t be done on the Web yet, and it can’t be done in Java yet, either. And iOS apps have a 1-click store and no malware. Put it together and iOS has a lot of apps. But any platform could begin to offer C apps and run multitrack recorders and video editors. C is cross-platform. Other platforms just don’t.

    Apple does not censor. That is ridiculous. Every Apple product has an open HTML5 application environment which anyone can develop for with any tools on any platform and there is no way for anyone, not even Apple, to stop that content getting on the devices, there is no walled garden. The apps are installed by the user from the developer’s server, with no involvement from Apple. All Apple devices play ISO MPEG-4 audio video from any source, there is no way for anyone, not even Apple, to stop that content getting on there. All Apple devices have ePub book readers, again, no way to stop that content getting on there. All Apple devices access FTP and WebDAV and Web servers, there is no walled garden. It is a very common but completely unforgivable mistake to conflate what Apple chooses to sell in their store and what the Apple device user has access to (everything in the world.) The reason it’s unforgivable is that iTunes+iPod predates all of Apple’s stores, we got music onto our iPods just fine without an Apple music store, and we get movies and books onto iOS devices in the same exact way. We get apps on as I said from the developer’s server and they auto-update from there. And the stupidest part of the walled garden thing is if you buy a Mac, it comes with all the tools to make your own music, movies, books, and apps, all of which you can run on your iOS device.

    > 5-10%

    Apple has 65% of the world’s mobile applications, and they take over 50% of all mobile phone profits, not just smartphones, but all mobile phones. The fact that they have done that in 3 years and with currently 3% market share in phones is a credit to Apple, not a debit. That is why everyone else in mobile has publicly wet their pants over the past year or two. Nokia has a few percent of mobile applications and takes 25% of the profits, RIM has a few percent of mobile applications and takes 15% of the profit, and the last 10% of the profit and the rest of the apps are divided up amongst all the other phone makers who are hanging on for dear life by their fingernails, many of whom will not be with us much longer.

    Apple also has a media player that runs their mobile apps, and the only mobile PC in the world, which also runs their mobile apps, so they are challenging Nokia and RIM to meet them on iPod-like and Mac-like ground that they are not setup for. So Apple’s not taking a back seat to anybody in mobile. They are the dominant player. The only metric they don’t dominate is market share, but that just means room to grow when you already have over 50% of the profits and 50% of the apps. What will the industry look like when Apple has 25% market share?

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